By Aart Malhotra
On Friday 18 February, LSE published its annual sustainability report, highlighting the School’s commitment to tackling the climate crisis.
The report examines how LSE’s Sustainability Strategic Plan was applied across all sectors of the School, including education, research, leadership, and investment over the 2020-21 academic year.
LSE’s most significant achievement in sustainability was becoming the first carbon-negative UK university last November.
In 2020/21, LSE’s direct carbon emissions amounted to 7396 tonnes, a 44 per cent decrease since 2005. This was achieved despite the campus population and size increasing by 47 and 40 per cent, respectively, since 2005.
The report also showed LSE’s success in reducing waste and enhancing its waste management infrastructure: in 2020/21, the School produced 755 tonnes of waste, of which 58 per cent was either reused or recycled; by comparison, in 2013/14, LSE’s total waste volume was tallied at nearly 1800 tonnes. Moreover, excluding construction-related waste (0.16 percent), LSE was once again able to achieve zero landfill waste.
However, the report acknowledged the role of campus closures and pandemic-related restrictions that helped lower the School community’s overall carbon footprint and waste volume since 2020.
The report also commended LSE’s role in co-founding and chairing the Global Alliance of Universities on Climate (GAUC). The forum aims to integrate sustainability into values of higher education globally. This year also saw LSE joining the United Nations Race to Zero, a global campaign lobbying non-state actors towards becoming carbon-negative.
Moving forward, the School is working towards achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2030 for most direct emissions and by 2050 for indirect emissions. Direct emissions account for emissions caused by activities and energy use, whereas indirect emissions account for emissions associated with supply chains, sourcing, etc.
Charles Joly, Head of Sustainability at LSE, commented: “The scope and scale of progress summarised in our Annual Sustainability Report is testament that the momentum for sustainability at LSE continues to grow with action driven by our students, educators, researchers, and alumni with the full support of LSE’s senior leadership team.
‘‘We know there is more we can do to accelerate our response to the climate crisis and unlock further opportunities for LSE to maximise its impact in shaping a sustainable world, working in collaboration with the diverse LSE community and our external partners.”